Under mounting pressure from the police union, Police Chief Dewayne White has decided not to eliminate seven captain positions to fund the three deputy chief slots he wants to create.
White said he acquiesced even though he believes there are too many captains on the force because he understands the union’s concerns and doesn’t want to have an adversarial relationship with the organization.
“In the instances where I can bend, I will,” said White, who joined the Baton Rouge Union of Police Local 237 after being appointed chief in May. “This is one of those instances.”
Cpl. Chris Stewart, president of the police union, said eliminating the captain positions would have made it more difficult for officers to earn promotions.
“The nature of our promotional system within civil service is that if you eliminate positions like this at the higher end, it’s going to have a trickle-down effect,” Stewart said. “Unless the lieutenant left, nobody would make sergeant.”
As for funding the three deputy chief positions, Stewart said White and the Metro Council are “just going to have to figure it out on their own.”
White said he is going to talk to the Metro Council’s Finance and Executive Committee about other funding options.
The Metro Council has to create the positions with an ordinance because the slots will not be filled based on seniority like most positions within the Police Department; they will be filled competitively.
A bill enacted into law during the 2010 Legislature created an exception in the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service promotional process, allowing deputy chiefs to be hired competitively.
The Metro Council is scheduled to consider creating the posts at its Wednesday meeting.
White has said he wanted to create the deputy chief positions to increase accountability, professionalism and public trust in the department.
“I know for this agency to move forward in the manner I envision it moving and to reach our objectives, we have to have accountability,” the chief said in a Monday interview. “That’s where we start getting results.”
The department’s current management structure allows captains to supervise captains, White has said.
If created, the deputy chiefs will provide a more clear and definitive chain of command, heading the department’s three main bureaus — uniform patrol, criminal investigation and administrative services, the chief said.
Stewart said the union does not oppose the idea of creating the three deputy chief positions, and he agrees with White that the deputy chiefs could increase communication and trust in the department.
“If the chief feels it’ll make the department more effective and he can operate more efficiently, the union is not going to stand in his way,” Stewart said.